With only five games left on the Big West Conference schedules of the two teams tied for third place, Utah State and Pacific, each 7-6, tonight's matchup between the two at 8:30 MST in Spanos Center could go a long way toward determining which club gets to follow UNLV and New Mexico State in the postseason tourney seedings.
Utah State had an easy time with Pacific Jan. 17, 74-64, but that was the day of the war and the bomb threat. And that was in Logan. The Aggies, who lost miserably at Fresno Thursday night, 107-86, have won only one league road game.A win tonight would definitely put the Aggies in the driver's seat because Pacific still has to play at UNLV and New Mexico State, while the Aggies have New Mexico State at home. Fresno and Fullerton, each 6-8, are fifth, but Fresno still has to play at New Mexico State and Fullerton has to play UNLV, and both would still have to make up 11/2 games on the Aggies.
The Aggies will play tonight without senior point guard Allen Gordon, who has a groin pull. He played Thursday but not well. Jay Goodman will start in his place.
"Now we're going to see what our team's really made of," says USU Coach Kohn Smith. "There are a lot of kids with their heads down because they just took a whipping, and now we have to bounce back and be forcused and determined because we'll get the same thing against Pacific."
Fresno's three-pointers (10-for-18) ruined the Aggies, particularly early in Thursday's game, and Pacific is the second-best three-point shooting team in the Big West, right behind UNLV.
"It was pretty depressing," Smith said of Thursday's outing, after which he made his team return immediately to the hotel to watch game films - "just the start," he said. Fresno jumped out 11-0. Kendall Youngblood, who'd scored in double figures for 28 straight games, missed one and had doubles in another four, was held to eight points Thursday.